(Belga) The Dutch air force has been responsible for protecting the Benelux airspace since Thursday. The F-16s from the Volkel air base (south-east) have taken over this task from Belgian combat aircraft, announce the defense ministries of the two countries. Belgium will resume this mission again on May 13.
Belgium and the Netherlands are jointly responsible for monitoring the airspace of the Benelux countries. They assume this mission alternately, for several weeks. Two F-16s are still operational for this task. In the Netherlands, they are stationed at Leeuwarden air base (north) or at Volkel air base. In Belgium, Florennes or Kleine Brogel are the home ports. The mission – “Quick Reaction Alert” (QRA) in military jargon – requires surveillance day and night, 7 days a week. Belgian and Dutch fighter jets take turns standing by to protect the airspace of the three country and intervene against terrorism. They take off at the slightest incident. This is mostly to intercept unidentified aircraft. The Belgian F-16s continue to protect the airspace of the Baltic Sea from the Estonian air base of Amari. NATO is responsible for guaranteeing the integrity, safety and security of the airspace of all members of the Alliance, recalls Defense on its website. As the Baltic countries do not have the appropriate planes to monitor their own airspace, the members of the Alliance take care of it. Arrived in December, the Belgian detachment will stay there for a period of four months, until March. (Belga)